August 2015 Work Parties

Created on 30/09/2015

August was a busy month for IWA branches with work party volunteers pulling Himalayan Balsam, lock painting, vegetation clearance, litter picks, as well as recovering trolleys, pushbikes and traffic cones from the canal. Read on for information of what our branches have been up to on the waterways.

IWA West Country Branch Tidy-Up Firepool Lock

Photo: Work Party Clean-Up and Tidy, Before the Rain Arrives

On 1st August, 17 volunteers gathered for an IWA West Country Branch Work Party at  Firepool Lock on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal.

The volunteers were divided into groups, some being tasked with painting the newly replaced lock balance beams and other lock machinery items, whilst others litter picked and tidied the area adjacent to the lock.

In addition, volunteers cut and trimmed back some of the vegetation and brambles, which were encroaching across the towpath towards Taunton Town Centre in one direction and Firepool towards Bathpool in the opposite direction.

Altogether volunteers worked a grand total of 65.75 hours.

IWA Northampton Branch Volunteers Discover Hidden Hoard

A task party from IWA Northampton Branch returned to the town lock island on 20th August to continue preparation work for the Festival of Water.  Overhanging trees were trimmed to allow boats to moor easily and bushes were tidied.

At the previous task party, a trolley had been left in the River Nene because a boat was moored right on top of it, so volunteers returned to remove it. Following a comment from a fisherman, a grappling hook recovered another shopping trolley. Volunteers ended up pulling out a total of nine trolleys, seven pushbikes and other various detritus!

On 23rd August, a task party ensured the Westbridge Arm was navigable for the Westbridge Arm Challenge at the Festival of Water

Cheshire Locks Work Party Makes Excellent Progress

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch's Cheshire Locks volunteer work party on 20th August, continued to uplift Lock 46 on the Red Bull Flight. Nine volunteers put in a very productive days work and made excellent progress towards completing Lock 46.

Lock 46 handrails and metal work were in a poor state requiring much work to rub down and paint. The volunteers also uncovered some attractive granite cobbles on the offside landing area and thoroughly cleaned weeds off the brick setts between the pairs of bottom gates.

Successful Litter Pick in Chester

IWA Chester and Merseyside Branch had a successful day in Chester at their 25th August work party. A total of nine volunteers attended to litter pick Deva Aqueduct, Tower Wharf, Northgate Locks and Dee branch and they collected 16 bags of litter and various other detritus including traffic cones.  The work party attracted plenty of positive feedback from local people.

Staffs & Worcs Canal Lock Painting Completed

On 12th August IWA Birmingham, Black Country and Worcestershire Branch volunteers met at Caunsall and walked up to the moorings on the county border to remove vegetation from around the mooring rings, cut back vegetation and overhanging branches and paint posts and fencing.  More rings were exposed at Whittington lock.

Monthly work parties have been well supported and volunteers have worked in a number of locations along the Staffs & Worcs Canal as well as in Stourport Basins. Activities have ranged from lock gate and paddle gear painting, (including lock ladders and bridge rails), through balsam bashing and clearing vegetation.  As well as the ever necessary litter picking.

100 Bags of Himalayan Balsam Cleared in Warwick

Eighteen volunteers from IWA Warwickshire Branch and local residents have been tackling the Himalayan Balsam, which was beginning to infest Myton Fields in Warwick. Myton Fields which includes fishing facilities for young people, stretches along the south bank of the River Avon and hosts a variety of fauna and flora. The plant was growing among the large beds of nettles and brambles which form an essential part of the ecology of the park.

The first event in July had enabled the extent of the infestation to be established so that the volunteers on 9th August could be directed to the worst affected areas.

In all, the volunteers hard work filled approximately 100 bags with Himalayan Balsam which were collected and destroyed by Warwick District Council.  Clearing Himalayan Balsam is a long term project and so IWA Warwickshire Branch will be monitoring the site and organising further clearances in succeeding years.

Himalayan Balsam Tackled on the Uttoxeter Canal

Photo: Volunteers pulling-up Himalayan Balsam on the Uttoxeter Canal

IWA North Staffordshire and South Cheshire Branch’s work party in mid-August saw volunteers back in the vicinity of Crumpwood flood lock on the Uttoxeter Canal. Volunteers split into two groups, both of which were kept busy once again tackling Himalayan Balsam. The first group worked downstream from the flood lock (this section of the canal is dry) with the now legendary Caldon Canal Society Slashers, clearing a very large area of Himalayan Balsam. Working between the flood lock and the footbridge over the river Churnet, the second group hand-pulled the balsam that was growing amongst the desirable native species on site. Suitably equipped with life jackets they worked right down to the water’s edge and in the absence of a work-boat improvised with rakes to reach the balsam that grew out from the bank.  One of the volunteers also spent time removing regrowth of the ivy growing on the weir abutment.

On Saturday 29th August, the group was pleased to welcome two new volunteers.  One of them was not only new to the Uttoxeter Canal but had not been on a canal work party anywhere before. Although late in August volunteers were pleasantly surprised that the Himalayan Balsam was not yet setting seed. The work party completed the removal of balsam from the section between the flood lock and footbridge that they started on the previous work party. The only patch of Himalayan Balsam they could not access was growing on a tree which must have fallen into the river some time ago and become lodged against the weir. It is planned that Waterway Recovery Group will remove this tree, along with a more recently fallen silver birch, from the weir during their annual ‘Bonfire Bash’ reunion camp in early November.

Other Work Parties

In addition to these work parties, in August, IWA Ipswich Branch continued to support the River Gipping Trust, IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch worked on the Burslem Arm of the Trent & Mersey Canal and on the Macclesfield Canal in Congleton, IWA Lincolnshire Branch were supporting the Sleaford Navigation Trust, IWA Manchester Branch had its monthly work party.

Interested in getting involved as a volunteer with IWA? Take a look at IWA’s information on volunteering or get in touch with Alison Smedley.

Tags: IWA Work Parties